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2016 targets raised and new 2018 projections unrealistically high

  • 12 Sep 16

Management has raised its 2016 guidance and also increased its 2018 outlook. Revenue and EBIT numbers of €112bn and €5.5bn for the current year are very much in line with our expectations (€113.5bn and €5.4bn, respectively). However, management is overly optimistic for the next two years. By 2018, revenue is expected to reach €136bn (+10% p.a.) and EBIT between €8.7bn and €9.8bn (the middle yields an annual appreciation of 30%). At a time when the US market is likely to be close to its current peak, these projections seem to be wishful thinking. From 2015 to 2018, volume sales of the Jeep brand are expected to increase by 17% annually (from 1.24m units to 2.0m) with the strongest growth rates of some 70% in APAC and LatAm and 30% in EMEA. Besides the American plants, FCA intends to also produce these SUVs in China (two plants) and Italy. The Jeep brand alone cannot contribute sufficiently to the above 2018 revenue number. Other large-volume brands (like Fiat) need to increase their production and sales numbers as well, whereas the Chrysler brand is likely to suffer from the US consumers’ reluctance to buy sedans. Although the group intends to present numerous new models, capex (including capitalised R&D) is expected to remain unchanged at €8.5-9.0bn from 2016 to 2018. This plan, according to management, includes spending to support the development of advanced technologies and to meet regulatory compliance requirements. In fact, as revenue is projected to increase sharply, capex as a percentage of net revenues is expected to decline. Management argues that this is in line with the industry average. Our current projections for the auto industry (including suppliers) see capex (as a percentage of revenue) rising from just below 8% in 2015 to 8.3% by 2018. As a result of the above, management expects net industrial liquidity to turn around from net debt of €5.0bn at the end of 2015 to net cash of €4.0-5.0bn at the end of 2018. Conclusion: we find FCA’s new 2018 targets as being very ambitious indeed. In fact, the expected revenue growth numbers do not match capex projections and legal requirements to fulfill emission requirements. As a consequence, we do not see net liquidity turning around by some €10bn within such a short period of time.